Licensing Forum, 26 June 2013 The National Archives, Kew

Licensing Forum, 26 June 2013
The National Archives, Kew
In attendance
Marcia Jackson – The National Archives (Chair)
Carl Wiper – Information Commissioner’s Office
Jeni Tennision – Open Data Institute
Jim Wretham – The National Archives
Jo Ellis – The National Archives
Liz Farmer – Business, Innovation and Skills
Matthew Pearce – The National Archives
Tony Dent – UKHO
Karen Bennett – UKHO
Louise Tipper – The Coal Authority
Shane O’Neill – ELGIN
Adrian Russell – FCO
Alistair Wilkinson – Land Registry
Emma Macreath – Land Registry
Alan Lloyd – Driving Standards Agency
Alison Wilson – Driving Standards Agency
Jemma Venables – Cabinet Office
Lizetta Lyster – Cabinet Office
Lindsay Jones – English Heritage
Stephen Keightley – Centre for Ecology and
Carol Watts – Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Simon Hill – Health and Safety Laboratory
Malkiat Thiarai – Birmingham City Council
Mark Buckley – Companies House
Sue Williams – Intellectual Property Office
Camilla O’Hare – Metropolitan Police
Robin Pudney – Ordnance Survey
Marcus Richards – Ordnance Survey
Neil Sutherland – Ordnance Survey
Anthony Karabinas – DCLG
Richard Paterson – BFI
Will McKenzie – Environment Agency
Diana Paine – Department of Health
Gesche Schmidt – Local Government Association
Marcia Jackson (The National Archives) - Introduction from Chair
MJ noted the strength of the agenda, reflecting the amount of activity going on in
government, with:
changes to the Freedom of Information Act around datasets,
new tools and initiatives from the Open Data Institute,
passage of the PSI Directive through the EU legislative process;
and the publication of a significant independent review of Public Sector
Information by Stephan Shakespeare
In terms of unscheduled changes to the agenda:
Jo Ellis (TNA) would briefly update the forum on revisions to the Open
Government Licence.
Ed Parkes (CO) would not be joining the last session to discuss the government
response to the Shakespeare Review.
Other highlights since the last Licensing Forum included:
Publication of the Administrative Data Taskforce Report
Publication of the Information Economy Strategy Consultation
A recent speech by Francis Maude ahead of the G8 conference, and subsequent
package of announcements.
UK claimed the top ranking on the European PSI Scoreboard.
UK initiatives such as OGL and IFTS attracting praise at a recent meeting of the
Legal Aspects of Public Sector Information network.
Carl Wiper (Information Commissioner’s Office) - Datasets provisions in
the Freedom of Information Act
Carl outlined the main concepts that help in understanding the new provisions, and
which would be covered in the presentation. These being the definition of a dataset,
the role of ‘requests’, interaction between datasets and publication schemes, and
Key issues for understanding the changes to the Act were:
the expansion of the Act’s role beyond access and into the area of re-use;
that no new material would be accessible that was not previously accessible.
that the Act created new duties for public authorities around the supply of
material in electronic format
The most basic question was that of the definition of a ‘dataset’ under the Act,
important criteria were
That a dataset was a collection of information, taken to mean that a single piece
of information could not constitute one.
Datasets were held in electronic form.
Further criteria would have to apply to ‘all or most’ of a dataset, and so
interpretation of ‘most’ would be important.
A dataset had to be related to provision of services by a public body, this was a
new approach for the Act, considering the purpose for which information was
A dataset would contain factual information, and the explanatory memorandum
provides some helpful examples of what this might mean, e.g. numbers.
Information in a dataset would not be the product of analysis or interpretation.
Official Statistics would not be datasets, as an established alternate regime
existed for them.
The presentation of information in a dataset would not have been materially
altered since the dataset was first created.
If a user requests information that meets the definition of a dataset, and desires to
receive the information in electronic form, the provisions require that a public
authority to supply the dataset in a re-useable form.
This notion of a re-useable form is not exhaustively defined, but it is expected that
machine readability is implied. So that, for example, a PDF file is not likely to count
as a re-usable form.
The 5-star system developed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee would probably provide a good
guide as to the re-usability of information in a particular form.
The revised PSI Directive may also be of assistance, as it ventured a helpful definition
of the term ‘machine readable’.
Provision of information in such a form was, also, only required where reasonably
practicable. This was taken to provide authorities with some relief when requests
were made which would take substantial effort to accommodate. However, the
legislation did not create firm guidelines for time and cost limits.
Copyright & licensing
In addition to the requirements regarding supply of information in a particular form
the legislation also established duties for public authorities with respect to
permitting re-use.
These duties came into effect where the dataset was a ‘relevant copyright work’,
meaning roughly that:
The public authority owned copyright in the dataset.
The dataset was not Parliamentary or Crown copyright.
Where this was the case re-use must be permitted under a licence specified within
the section 45 Code of Practice.
The Open Government Licence was recommended as the default for most
situations, though not mandated by the legislation.
A non-commercial and a charged licence were also available under the Code of
It was important to keep in mind that the duties around providing data in a re-usable
format and licensing re-use were separate. Hence authorities would from time to
time be required to provide information even where they were unable to license its
Fees and charges
Where charges were made for re-use under a specified licence, they would be
governed by a separate set of fees regulations. These were based on the existing
rules in the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005. However, in the
event that a separate charging power already existed, it would take precedence over
this default. Clearly, where public authorities adopted the recommended default of
the Open Government Licence, this would become a moot point.
Publication schemes
The role of the publication scheme would also be affected by the new datasets
provisions. The audience would recall that publication schemes set out the
information a public authority routinely made available.
Publication schemes should ensure that requested datasets were published unless
‘not appropriate’. Note ‘requested’ datasets, rather than just those datasets which
had been successfully provided by the authority in response to a request. The
interpretation of ‘not appropriate’ would therefore play an important role in the
operation of the new provisions, but this was not a defined term.
Challenge and complaints
The ICO was tasked with investigating complaints regarding the new provisions.
Although we should recall these did not create new access rights.
It was expected that there would be a level of interest from the public in testing the
new provisions. Although it was difficult in advance to determine the volume of
disputes that would reach the ICO.
ICO was also responsible for data protection issues, and intended to keep aware of
any issues raised by increased publication of datasets with respect to the
identification of individuals.
While the legislation could potentially be off-putting, the intention behind it was
relatively simple. Where information was held in useful electronic formats, it should
be supplied in them, and licensed for re-use as openly as possible.
There would be challenges around public authorities’ technical competency, where
organisations did not have requisite IT skills at their disposal to provide information
in a re-useable format. There would also be challenges for public authorities in
establishing ownership of intellectual property rights and understanding what they
Environmental information
An important point to note was that the discussion above related only to
information accessible under FOIA. Environmental information was governed by the
EIR and the provisions there did not mirror the changes to FOIA.
Public authorities were encouraged to be pragmatic in their approach to access
requests for environmental information in the same spirit as for other information.
Next Steps
The anticipated launch date was 1 August, although this was very much provisional.
Further communication and engagement on the section 45 Code of Practice for
datasets was still required, and similar for the new fees regulations.
A memorandum of agreement had been established between ICO and TNA with
respect to re-use issues arising under the new scheme, and the two organisations
would be working closely when the scheme launched.
Jeni Tennison (Open Data Institute) - Creating Capability
Briefly, the Open Data Institute was created with £10m in match funding from the
Technology Strategy Board. Its remit and partners stretch across government and
the private sector, in order to deliver its goal of increasing the national capacity to
publish, use and re-use open data. The talk would set out what Open Data is, why it
was worth pursuing, alongside legal and technical challenges.
What is open data?
Open Data is not synonymous with ‘data you don’t have to pay for’ – if you can
physically get hold of data for free, but the licence only covers use in a microbusiness or for non-commercial purposes, then the data is not Open. New business
opportunities can be ruled out by such arrangements and so the issue is not
The Open Knowledge Definition gave a useful positive definition of Open Data, which
exists where, "anyone is free to use, reuse and redistribute".
Why open data?
The traditional default approach to thinking about how an organisation can get
benefits from its data is as an asset to sell. This is one of many approaches, and part
of the role of the ODI was to help organisations find other pathways to getting
benefits from their data. For instance through the possibilities of: new products, new
communications channels, cost reductions, strengthened links with partners.
Seen at a broader level the benefits of Open Data are about getting more users, and
the strength this gives a data provider.
Some of the main ways of doing this were straightforward, with data-publishers
increasing the confidence of data-users about their commitment to publish.
Making it technically easy to work with and combine data was also an area of
opportunity and action for the ODI.
When planning action it is important to understand the differing impact of datasets,
in order to prioritise work.
It was useful to consider a framework in which the importance of a dataset to other
people was the primary criterion for impact.
The ease of publication was an important, but secondary consideration.
A similar analysis was made in the independent Shakespeare Review of public sector
information, which proposed a ‘twin track’ approach. This advocated swift
publication for most datasets,
Legal issues
A common legal obstacle for Open Data was the mixing of closed data with data an
organisation wanted to open. This highlighted the need to maintain clear
provenance records and consider how data could be separated.
Clear, simple, unrestricted licensing was needed. The Open Government Licence was
a good example of this and its use should be supported.
Data protection was of vital importance to Open Data. Organisations should
wherever ‘people-data’ was involved, even where anonymised, make available any
privacy impact assessments. This would not only help to protect publishers, but also
users of data, who might develop data protection obligations when using the data
Practical issues
Many of the practical issues were around providing information on the data being
published. For instance announcing release schedules and intentions for API uptime
go a long way to ensuring businesses could feel confident investing in products
based around particular datasets.
Similarly, describing the level of quality control applied to data before release was
very helpful. Users tend to be very accepting, but like to know what to expect.
Quality control is also an area where user feedback can be helpful to a publisher –
when we think data is perfect it’s probably a sign nobody is using it.
On formats, the message was around machine readability. ODI promoted a view of
using the most appropriate format for a particular type of data. However open
standards were preferable to closed formats. Clearly, putting data in images such as
PDFs is not seen as good practice.
A design principle ODI encourages is use of URLs to identify things. This makes it easy
to combine datasets later on, and for a user to explore the meaning of a dataset by
following links.
Open Data Certificates
The ODI has developed a certificates service to make it easy to generate useful
documentation for open datasets.
A data publisher completes an online questionnaire covering many of the topics
raised above around release schedule, quality control levels etc. This information is
then presented in a certificate which relays the information to users together with
an assessment of the quality of publication.
The tool is very new, having been released at the recent G8 meeting. However, a
number of organisations had already begun to use it, including OpenStreetMap,
TransportAPI, Ordnance Survey and
The Government Digital Service was investigating how to incorporate the certificates
into its practice.
The Open Data Institute saw the certificates taking over from the work begun with
the 5-star model, and by widening focus from formats to a broader base of issues
that affect publication quality.
ODI was also providing a range of training packages to help organisations make the
most of Open Data. These included:
A five day Open Data in Practice course, run three times a year.
An Open Data for Journalists course.
Coming next year would be a Postgraduate Certificate.
Customised in-house training
Jo Ellis (The National Archives) - Open Government Licence v2.0
This was a short announcement on the Open Government Licence, which was
undergoing some minor revisions.
Having been launched in 2010, the OGL was approaching its third birthday. It had
been received very well in the UK. It had also attracted interest from a number of
foreign governments grappling with similar issues, as far afield as Canada and South
The major change was around Data Protection. The Open Government Licence did
not cover use of personal data. Nevertheless version 1 had included wording
requiring reminding re-users of their obligations under the Data Protection Act. This
would be removed in version 2. Strong feedback had been received that this was
confusing, as if personal data was not covered the wording was unnecessary. Also,
whether reminded of it or not, the Data Protection Act was law, and removal of
additional wording would not change that.
Another change was a clarification of the requirements around non-endorsement.
Through the introduction of a separate section designed to make it clear that the
licence does not permit the re-user to suggest that their versions of the information
enjoy any official status or have departmental endorsement.
The revisions would also introduce a new logo for the OGL to make it easy to identify
material that was published under it, and increase recognition of it.
Update: version 2 of the Open Government Licence has now been published.
Jim Wretham (The National Archives) – PSI Directive Update
The PSI Directive had first been adopted in 2003. Transposition in the UK had
occurred during 2005.
The Directive was concerned with re-use, which could be defined as “The use of
public sector information for a purpose beyond the public task.”
The Directive was not concerned with access, only what could be done with
information once access was legitimately provided.
PSI was of economic importance. The latest UK evaluation of the size of the market
had been undertaken as part of the Shakespeare Review. The direct value of the
market had been put at £1.8bn, or £6.8bn including wider impacts and effects.
The importance of public information was recognised internationally as well as in the
UK, with leaders such as President Obama making statements as recently as May
The European Commission had recognised this importance, which had led to its
proposal to amend the PSI Directive during 2011. The main changes between the
new and old Directive were:
Creation of an obligation to allow re-use.
Establishment of a default marginal cost pricing rule. Though there were
important exceptions to this which provided for a more flexible charging regime.
Inclusion of the cultural sector for the first time. However, different rules would
apply to cultural bodies, for instance around exclusive licensing which was known
to be important in digitisation projects.
Strengthened redress mechanisms. These had been inspired by the UK model,
and so UK felt comfortable here.
The Directive had cleared European legislative stages, all that remained was
publication. [At the time of the presentation the advice was to expect publication in
July/August. The Directive has now been published in the Official Journal.]
Transposition to UK law would occur within 2 years of publication in the Official
Journal. The National Archives would be looking to stakeholders throughout that
period, both for advice on the transposition and to prepare for the changes it would
Liz Farmer (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) –
Shakespeare Review
Stephan Shakespeare, co-founder of YouGov had been requested to provide an
independent review of the market for public sector information. This stemmed from
a commitment made in the Open Data White Paper of June 2012. The Data Strategy
Board secretariat, located within BIS, had provided support for the review. The
report was published on 15 May.
The review considered the full breadth of the market, across all types of actors
including re-users, information holders, and the regulatory environment. It was also
important to assess UK preparedness for emerging opportunities.
The broad finding was that the UK performed favourably. The UK also enjoyed
champions such as the Public Sector Transparency Board providing a lead on policy.
Deloitte had been appointed to compile an evidence base around public sector
information. The key quantitative figures emerging from the resulting report were:
Consumer surplus from direct use and consumption PSI related products of
around £1.6bn per year.
Producer surplus from revenue to public sector information holders from sales of
data of around £100m.
Supply chain effects from increased jobs and related consumer spending from
the production of PSI of around £100m.
An estimate of the wider social and economic benefits in excess of £5bn.
YouGov had provided support with two pieces of attitudinal research, taking samples
separate samples from the YouGov panel and an open survey anyone could respond
to. These provided some encouragement that the public would support efforts to
increase access to and re-use of public sector information, providing some
safeguards were met.
Recommendations stemming from the report included that
Businesses were unwilling to invest while government commitments were
unpredictable. This required creation of a National Data Strategy.
The implementation of a National Data Strategy should be used as an
opportunity to simplify governance in the policy area.
Government needed a twin track approach to data publication. Firstly publishing
data early even if imperfectly. Secondly identifying the most critical datasets,
those which should be seen as National Information Infrastructure, and ensuring
they were available for re-use.
Trading Funds could do more through the creation of ‘sandbox’ environments in
which datasets could be trialled before purchase.
Privacy rights needed strengthening, to introduce a check and balance to the
increased publication of datasets. Including both through new action such as the
strengthening of penalties, and better use of existing complaints processes such
as those of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Capability recommendations. Government required more professionals skilled in
disciplines connected to data analysis. The problem was present but perhaps less
acutely in other sectors. These needs were likely to be unmet on the current
trajectory and so particular intervention was required to ensure they were.
Government Response – Liz Farmer, Marcia Jackson
As an official from the Cabinet Office was unfortunately unable to attend the Forum
to brief colleagues Liz and Marcia ran through some of the highlights from the
government response:
The government response had been published as part of the G8 meeting package
on Open Data on 14 June.
Key announcement around governance was the merger of the Public Sector
Transparency Board with the Data Strategy Board. Membership of the new
grouping had not yet been determined.
Target date of October 2013 for identification of National Information
Infrastructure assets.
It was notable that the response highlighted much good practice in the UK, and
the many achievements made over recent years.
The actions on National Information Infrastructure were being taken forward
primarily by Cabinet Office under the Open Government Partnership.
Actions on national data capability will be taken forward by BIS where they fall under
the Information Economy Strategy.